Science, JSTOR, and Why it is Important

Science (published by the non-profit AAAS) is pulling out of a 10-year agreement with JSTOR to host the Science’s archival backfile. The cost for UW-L to have access to the JSTOR collection that included Science (Health & General Sciences) would have been an initial $3,750, then $3,000 annually in maintenance costs. Only seven titles are included in this collection and Murphy Library simply couldn’t afford it. Apparently Science saw their inclusion in JSTOR, a non-profit entity, as cutting into their profits. Did I mention that AAAS is a non-profit? Libraries who purchased the JSTOR collection prior to 2007 will continue to access the Science backfile, although it will never include any content after 2002. Those libraries wishing access to the backfile archives of Science will have to purchase rights directly from AAAS. I wager that the cost for this access will not be cheap.

So why is this important? Libraries can no longer afford to subscribe to and archive print copies of journals. With budgets being stretched to the breaking point, electronic journals are simply more cost-effective. And it’s not just about the cost of binding and storing print subscriptions, it’s also about convenience. Users do not want the inconvenience of having to physically come to the library, look for issues on a shelf, and pay to photocopy the article. In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, librarians are said to be considering a move back to print journals. At this point, moving back to print journals would be like bringing back typewriters – a move that isn’t going to happen. A move that may happen – institutions canceling their subscriptions to Science.


October 23, 2007. Uncategorized.

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